HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc1819-32
Mr. Robert Sheldon

I beg to move amendment no. 126, in page 36, line 43, leave out from 'offer' to second 'any' in line 44 and insert 'for'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take Government amendment no. 127.

Mr. Sheldon

Under the Bill as drafted, shares could not be disposed of in the five-year retention period except in cases of a company reconstruction or amalgamation, when the shares were to be replaced by shares in another company. In other words, under the legislation as it stood before the debates in Committee, if another company wished to make a cash offer for the shares of a company which was running a profit-sharing scheme, the trustees who held that scheme's shares would have been unable to accept the offer. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) tabled an amendment which made it possible for trustees to accept cash offers for their shares during the five-year period of retention, thus making sure that perfectly reasonable takeovers may take place.

When accepting that amendment, the Minister of State, who dealt with this matter in Committee, made it clear that he was able to go further, because as a matter of drafting the amendment did not cover the cases of takeover for cash resulting in arrangements under section 206 of the Companies Act. He made a commitment to bring forward a further amendment to complement the amendment of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North in order to cover this point. These amendments meet that commitment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 127, in page 37, line 7, at end insert— (ab) directing the trustees to agree to a transaction would be entered into pursuant to them as are of a particular class, if the transaction affecting his shares or such of a compromise, arrangement or scheme applicable to or affecting—

  1. (i) all the ordinary share capital of the company in question or, as the case may be, all the shares of the class in question; or
  2. (ii) all the shares, or shares of the class in question, which are held by a class of shareholders identified otherwise than by reference to their employment or their participation in an approved scheme; or'. —[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]

Amendment made: No. 90, in page 37, line 20, at end insert— '(2A) If, in breach of his obligation under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) above, a participant assigns, charges or otherwise disposes of the beneficial interest in any of his shares, then, as respects those shares, he shall be treated for the purposes of this Chapter as if, at the time they were appropriated to him, he was ineligible to participate in the scheme; and section 47 below shall apply accordingly.'.—[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]

Mr. MacGregor

I beg to move amendment no. 68, in page 37, line 24, leave out 'fifth' and insert 'third'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

With this we are to take Government amendments nos. 37, 38 and 39 and the following amendments:

No. 157, in line 34, leave out 'fifteenth' and insert 'fifth'.

No. 70, in line 45, leave out from 'of' to end of line 11 and insert 'that date, the appropriate percentage is 40 par cent.'.

Mr. MacGregor

This group of amendments contains what is perhaps the most significant change in profit-sharing schemes as a result of our debates in Committee, and these are in the Government amendments. I have no doubt that the Financial Secretary will be explaining them, but they are fairly straightforward. They telescope the period during which employees have to hold their shares before getting the benefits of the tax reliefs. They have a quicker taper from the fifteenth to the tenth year, and employees will now have complete tax relief if they wish to sell their shares after the tenth year instead of after the fifteenth year, as the Bill provided originally.

This is a very important change. As the Financial Secretary will recall, it mirrors almost exactly an amendment which the Opposition moved in Committee and which was not accepted on that occasion, although the Minister of State indicated that he would look at the point again.

There are two reasons why this is so important and why, therefore, the Opposition welcome it. The first is that the 15-year period was clearly too long—I know that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) shared our view—if we wanted to encourage employees to take up shares. It would have greatly inhibited the introduction of schemes in many countries. The time scale was such that many people would not have seen the benefits of the schemes for a very long time.

The second reason is perhaps the one which has convinced the Government. It was on this that the Minister of State dwelt in Committee. It is that there would have been enormous administrative complications for companies in the selling of shares, in tracing employees who had left, in rights issues and so on if the tax reliefs did not operate until the end of the 15-year period. We can all envisage the number of times that there could have been transactions of one kind or another during that 15-year period, and that, too, would have been a major obstacle to companies taking up these schemes.

I hope I am right in thinking that the Government accepted our view that the incentive aspect was too long in 15 years and, therefore, that 10 years was more appropriate, and not just the point about administration.

Although the Opposition are glad to see this change, there are two points in amendments nos. 68 and 157 to which I wish to draw attention. I deal with amendment no. 68 first. It is on the same related point of tax reliefs but on a quite different aspect of it. It provides that if an employee wishes to sell his shares after three years instead of five years, he will be able to do so, although, of course, he will have to pay during that period the full whack of tax as indicated in the Bill. He will not be able to sell the shares tax-free. From the third to the seventh year he will have to take it at the full rate of tax, and at reduced rates of tax from then on until the tenth year, when he will get the full tax relief.

We want to change the fifth year to the third year. We believe that, if these schemes are to be made attractive to employees, it is necessary that there should be a time scale during which they cannot sell the shares other than for reasons such as death already given in the Bill. At the same time, it is necessary for them to see some point not too far ahead when they will be able to get the benefits of the shares even with the tax attached to them. With the introduction of a new scheme where we want to make the terms so exciting and generous that people will want to take advantage of it, five years is too long. In Committee we thought that two years was more appropriate, but now we put forward three years.

This is also important because earlier, when we had that very important statement from the Financial Secretary on the implications for pay policy of profit-sharing schemes and the fact that they would be excluded, I referred to the fact that many employees would see these schemes as part of their overall remuneration package. If they feel that they have to wait as long as five years before they get the ownership of the shares, I do not believe that they will see the advantages. We think that three years is a reasonable compromise.

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North opposed the argument which we advanced in Committee for two years rather than five. By extending the period slightly, we are enticing him to come a little our way, hoping that he will now agree that three years is a reasonable period in order to get these schemes off the ground in a massive way.

Amendment no. 157 is on the same point as the Government's amendments except that in amendment no. 157 we wish to reduce the period after which the shares can be sold free of all tax from 10 years to five, with no tapering. I take the point that there must be a period during which the full tax applies. I am very much in favour of that delay before the tax reliefs come into play, because I see one of the advantages of these schemes as being that more and more employees gradually will see the benefits of equity holdings, even if they are in their own companies. Therefore, they need to be locked in for a certain time without tax reliefs.

However, I am a little concerned again that 10 years is too long. For many younger employees, 10 years is a very long time. It may mean that they do not see this as an attractive package. There is also the point that, although there is an immense advantage in moving down from 25 years to 10, there will still be administrative problems for companies in tracing employees if they have to keep their records for 10 years.

One of the criticisms of these schemes always has been that employees have too many of their eggs in the one basket—namely not only do they get their remuneration but they get shares from the same company. I am very anxious to encourage many more of our fellow citizens to acquire savings of their own, especially in equities, because there are so many tax disadvantages in that direction at present. Therefore, I can see advantages in these schemes in enabling employees after a certain period—five years may be too generous and seven years may be more reasonable—to sell the shares in their companies and, having acquired a certain appetite for equities, to spread the load by buying unit trusts or shares in other companies as well. Therefore, again I feel that one of the advantages of bringing the period down to 10 years is that it deals with the eggs-in-the-one-basket argument.

Unless the Financial Secretary is prepared to accept amendment no. 68, we shall wish to press it for the reasons that I have given. It may be that we shall not wish to press amendment no. 157, because the Government have at least met us half-way in making the change from 15 years to 10 years. But I believe that the position has to be watched very carefully as these schemes develop. If it seems that the 10-year period is too big an obstacle for many companies, we should reserve the right to come back to a change along the lines of amendment no. 157, if necessary. However, on this occasion it is amendment no. 68 which I wish to press.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

Perhaps I might first comment on the Government's amendments and then deal with the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor).

Government amendments nos. 37, 38 and 39 have two objectives. The first is to bring forward the release date so that it is set at 10 years after the date on which the shares are appropriated rather than the 15 years originally in the Bill. Secondly, they make an associated reduction in the percentage taper referring to disposals of shares before the release date. If the disposal date is between seven and 10 years of the date of appropriation, the percentage of the sale that is charged to tax will be 25 per cent. and not 40 per cent. I note the welcome that this has had from the hon. Member.

The hon. Member for Norfolk, South wants to go further in all these aspects. In amendment no. 68, he wants to reduce the period of retention during which a participant in a profit-sharing scheme is not able to realise his shares from five years to three years. Amendment no. 157 brings forward the release date to five years after the date on which the shares were appropriated rather than the 10 years which the Government proposed. He has another amendment which also deals with the taper. The hon. Member dealt with two aspects. It is common ground between the Government and the Opposition that 15 years is too long, and there is the obstacle of looking too far ahead and blunting the incentive.

7.30 p.m.

We are concerned with the need to identify the employee with the long-term future of the company if these schemes are to succeed. It is not for the Government to decide the level of the incentive. We are simply concerned with laying the framework so that the companies can organise the incentives that most meet their particular demands. The long-term future of the company and the identification of the employee with its position needs to be seen in contrast to the point put by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South, who said that he was a little concerned about the excess of savings of the individual in the company.

There is a balance to he struck here. I believe that a period of 10 years is right for complete tax exemption. I also believe that there should be a period of five years after which an employee can make use of the funds, although he is liable to tax on them. If we accepted a three-year period, the identification with the long-term future of the company would be that much less. After the debates in Committee upstairs and the changes that we made consequent upon them, we feel that we have found a reasonable way of looking at these things in the initial period. It will be open to us to see the various ways in which these means are open to companies to employ in setting up the various schemes. We can return to these matters year after year and make sure that the provisions we have set out meet the requirements both of the companies and of the employees in the light of the different schemes as they are established.

Mr. Lawson

I share your anxiety to make progress, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Therefore, I shall confine my remarks to amendment no. 68.

The Financial Secretary said that he was concerned to encourage identification between the worker and the company. That is why he wants a longer period of retention. I accept that identification between the worker and the company is desirable. That is why we welcome this section of the Bill. But there will be identification only if the schemes get off the ground in the first place.

With a period of retention as long as five years there will be few schemes of this kind, because they simply will not be attractive enough to the workers concerned. Since the debate in the Committee upstairs I have had a submission from British Caledonian Airways. One point that it made was this that The maximum period that the trustee should hold the shares on behalf of an individual should be three years. Any significant time over that will detract from the value of the scheme. That is true. If workers are told that if they sign up in a scheme, they must hold the shares for rive years and cannot in any circumstances, save a few limited ones set out in the Bill, dispose of them, it will be a disincentive. The shares are locked in. This will not be an attractive deal and there will not be any schemes. Therefore, the Government's purpose will not be achieved.

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) did not fully understand this when we debated this matter upstairs. He thought that someone could sell his shares during the retention period, but if he did so he would not get the tax benefit. That is not the case. The shares must be held for 10 years before the individual can get the tax benefit, and I agree that there should be encouragement to hold on to the shares. But the retention period of five years is too long. During that time shares are held by trustees on behalf of the workers who are thus locked in for a five-year period that we want to reduce to three.

The employee concerned might be in the most acute financial difficulties. He might need to dispose of the shares in order to raise money. He has the shares but he cannot get rid of them; therefore they are worthless to him. That is very wrong.

The only circumstances laid down in the Bill in which an employee can get rid of his shares is if he suffers injury or disability, dismissal by redundancy, or death. The Government moved an amendment in response to our arguments in Committee and added the additional condition of reaching retirement age. However, none of these things caters for accidents or hazards in the financial sphere.

The employee, during the retention period, might not only find himself in acute financial difficulties and unable to pay his mortagee, for example; he might also find that the shares are going down in value. They might be depreciating all the time, yet he might be unable to get rid of them. This will not give him a very happy feeling about investment in equities.

The Financial Secretary may laugh, but it is not really very funny. I thought that the whole purpose of this part of the Bill was to encourage people to invest. For that reason and the other reasons that I have stated, I feel that a three-year retention period would be more appropriate, and I am delighted that my hon. Friend intends to press the matter to a Division.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

Division No. 268] AYES [7.38 p.m.
Aitken, Jonathan Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Neubert, Michael
Alison, Michael Hampson, Dr Keith Newton, Tony
Amery. Rt Hon Julian Hannam, John Normanton, Tom
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Nott, John
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Onslow, Cranley
Baker, Kenneth Haselhurst, Alan Osborn, John
Banks, Robert Hastings, Stephen Page, John (Harrow West)
Bell, Ronald Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Bendall, Vivian Hawkins, Paul Page, Richard (Workington)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Hayhoe, Barney Parkinson, Cecil
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Higgins, Terence L. Pattie, Geoffrey
Benyon, W. Hodgson, Robin Percival, Ian
Biffen, John Holland, Philip Peyton, Rt Hon John
Biggs-Davison, John Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Body, Richard Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Boscawen, Hon Robert Howell, David (Guildford) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bottomley, Peter Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Prior, Rt Hon James
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hunt, David (Wirral) Raison, Timothy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Rathbone, Tim
Braine, Sir Bernard Hurd, Douglas Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Brittan, Leon Hutchison, Michael Clark Rees-Davies, W. R.
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Brooke, Hon Peter James, David Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Brotherton, Michael Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Rhodes James, R.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Jessel, Toby Ridsdale, Julian
Bryan, Sir Paul Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rifkind, Malcolm
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Buck, Antony Jopling, Michael Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Budgen, Nick Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Sainsbury, Tim
Bulmer, Esmond Kaberry, Sir Donald Scott, Nicholas
Burden, F. A. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Scott-Hopkins, James
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Kilfedder, James Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Kimball, Marcus Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Channon, Paul King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Churchill, W. S. King, Tom (Bridgwater) Shepherd, Colin
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Kitson, Sir Timothy Shersby, Michael
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushclifle) Knight, Mrs Jill Sims, Roger
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Knox, David Sinclair, Sir George
Cope, John Lamont, Norman Skeet, T. H. H.
Cormack, Patrick Langtord-Holt, Sir John Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Costain, A. P. Latham, Michael (Melton) Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Lawrence, Ivan Speed, Keith
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Lawson, Nigel Spence, John
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Le Marchant, Spencer Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lester, Jim (Beeston) Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Drayson, Burnaby Lloyd, Ian Sproat, Iain
Durant, Tony Loveridge, John Stainton, Keith
Dykes, Hugh Luce, Richard Stanley, John
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John McCrindle, Robert Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Macfarlane, Neil Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Elliott, Sir William MacGregor, John Stokes, John
Emery, Peter MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Stradling Thomas, J.
Eyre, Reginald Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Tapsell, Peter
Fairbairn, Nicholas McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Farr, John McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Tebbit, Norman
Fell, Anthony Madel, David Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Finsberg, Geoffrey Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Marten, Neil Townsend, Cyril D.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mates, Michael Trotter, Neville
Fookes, Miss Janet Mather, Carol van Straubenzee, W. R.
Forman, Nigel Maude, Angus Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Fox, Marcus Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Viggers, Peter
Galbraith Hon T. G. D. Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Wakeham, John
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mayhew, Patrick Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Meyer, Sir Anthony Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Glyn, Dr Alan Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mills, Peter Warren, Kenneth
Goodhart, Philip Miscampbell, Norman Weatherill. Bernard
Goodlad, Alastair Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Wells, John
Gorst, John Moate, Roger Whitney, Raymond
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Moore, John (Croydon C) Wiggin, Jerry
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Winterton, Nicholas
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Morgan, Geraint Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Grieve, Percy Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Griffiths, Eldon Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Grylls, Michael Morrison, Charles (Devizes) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hall-Davis, A. G. F Neave, Airey Mr. Anthony Berry and
Hamilton, Archibald (Epsom & Ewell) Nelson, Anthony Mr. Peter Morrison.

The House divided: Ayes 230, Noes

Abse, Leo Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Oakes, Gordon
Allaun, Frank Garrett, John (Norwich S) O'Halloran, Michael
Anderson, Donald Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Archer, Rt Hon Peter George, Bruce Ovenden, John
Armstrong, Ernest Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Ashley, Jack Ginsburg, David Padley, Walter
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Golding, John Palmer, Arthur
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Gould, Bryan Pardoe, John
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Gourlay, Harry Park, George
Bain, Mrs Margaret Grocott, Bruce Parker, John
Bates, Alf Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Parry, Robert
Bean, R. E. Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Pavitt, Laurie
Bldwell, Sydney Hardy, Peter Pendry, Tom
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Penhaligon, David
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hart, Rt Hon Judith Phipps, Dr Colin
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Prescott, John
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Healey, Rt Hon Denis Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Heffer, Eric S. Price, William (Rugby)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Henderson, Douglas Radice, Giles
Bradley, Tom Hooley, Frank Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Horam, John Reid, George
Broughton, Sir Alfred Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sn. H) Richardson, Miss Jo
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Huckfield, Les Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Mark (Durham) Robinson, Geoffrey
Buchanan, Richard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roderick, Caerwyn
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Hunter, Adam Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Campbell, Ian Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Rooker, J. W.
Canavan, Dennis Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Rose, Paul B.
Carmichael, Neil Janner, Greville Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Carter, Ray Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jeger, Mrs Lena Rowlands, Ted
Cartwright, John Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Ryman, John
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara John Brynmor Sandelson, Neville
Clemitson, Ivor Johnson, James (Hull West) Sever, John
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Coleman, Donald Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Cowans, Harry Jones, Dan (Burnley) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Judd, Frank Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Kerr, Russell Skinner, Dennis
Crawshaw, Richard Kinnock, Neil Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Cronin, John Lambie, David Smith, Rt. Hon. John (N Lanarkshire)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Lamond, James Snape, Peter
Cryer, Bob Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Spearing, Nigel
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Leadbitter, Ted Spriggs, Leslie
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Lee, John Stallard, A. W.
Dalyell, Tam Lever, Rt Hon Harold Steel, Rt Hon David
Davidson, Arthur Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Litterick, Tom Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil Loyden, Eddie Stoddart, David
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Stott, Roger
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) McCartney, Hugh Strang, Gavin
Deakins, Eric McDonald, Dr Oonagh Sumrrerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McElhone, Frank Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey MacFarquhar, Roderick Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund McGuire, Michael (Ince) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Dempsey, James MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Dewar, Donald McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Doig, Peter McNamara, Kevin Thompson, George
Dormand, J. D. Madden, Max Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Magee, Bryan Tilley, John
Dunnett, Jack Mahon, Simon Tomlinson, John
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Mallalieu, J. P. W. Torney, Tom
Eadie, Alex Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Urwin, T. W.
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Maynard, Miss Joan Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Mikardo, Ian Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
English, Michael Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Ward, Michael
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Watkinson, John
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Weetch, Ken
Evans, John (Newton) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Weitzman, David
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Molloy, William Wellbeloved, James
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Moonman, Eric Welsh, Andrew
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) White, James (Pollok)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Whitehead, Phillip
Ford, Ben Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Whitlock, William
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Newens, Stanley Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Noble, Mike Williams. Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford) Woof, Robert TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Wilson, William (Coventry SE) Wrigglesworth, Ian Mr. Ted Graham and
Wise, Mrs Audrey Young, David (Bolton E) Mr. James Tinn.
Woodall, Alec

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment made: No. 84, in page 37, line 26, leave out 'the company concerned' and insert 'a relevant company'.—[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]

Mr. Robert Sheldon

I beg to move amendment no. 62, in page 37, line 31, at end insert— (a) the date on which the participant reaches pensionable age, as defined in Schedule 20 to the Social Security Act 1975; or'. This amendment fulfils a commitment given in Standing Committee by the Minister of State so that if a participant reaches pensionable age—65 for men and 60 for women—within five years of the date on which shares were appropriated, the period in which those shares are held, the retention period will end and the participant will be able to sell those shares without waiting for the five years to pass. In other words, an employee who reaches normal retirement age will be given the same treatment as the Bill provides for those who lose their jobs on account of injury or disability or becase they are made redundant. This fully meets the commitment we gave.

Mr. Peter Rees

We are grateful to the Minister for taking heed of the point made, with his usual assiduity and eloquence by my hon. Friend the Member for Norkik, South (Mr. MacGregor). We are grateful that he has considered the point and w8 welcome this step.

Mr. Powell

I wish to draw the attention of the Financial Secretary to a little curiosity, following a brief exchange that took place yesterday.

The right hon. Gentleman has introduced into the Bill another reference to the Social Security Act 1975, which does not extend to Northern Ireland. It appears to me that an interesting consequence follows from this. In the construction of this Bill in its application to Northern Ireland, it will be necessary to resort to the Social Security Act 1975, which does not extend to Northern Ireland, to decide what provisions apply in Northern Ireland. I fully accept that the purpose is to ascertain the age of 60 for women and 65 for men and that that could have been done by writing that provision into the amendment which we are discussing. But this illustrates the difficulty in which we get by attempting to run, or pretending to run, two concurrent statute books for the two parts of the United Kingdom.

I wish to make a practical request of the right hon. Gentleman, who kindly responded to my inquiry yesterday afternoon. I ask that a study should be made in the context of our Finance Acts of the extent to which this kind of cross-referencing between the statutes applying to Northern Ireland and those not applying to Northern Ireland is necessary. It is true that we would thereby effect only a minor tidying-up, but this would be helpful in the context of the larger debate that will fill a number of years to come as to the form in which this House is to legislate for Northern Ireland.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

I wish briefly to respond to the right hon. Gentleman, because he has made a good point. It is only right that I should give the commitment to investigate the part of this provision for which I have responsibility.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: Nos. 158, in page 37, line 32, at end insert— '(3A) In subsection (3)(a) above, "relevant company" means the company concerned or, if the scheme in question is a group scheme, the participating company; and in the application of subsection (3)(a) above to a participant in a group scheme, the participant shall not be treated as ceasing to be an employee or director of a relevant company until such time as he is no longer an employee or director of any of the particular companies.'.

No. 37, in line 34, leave out 'fifteenth' and insert 'tenth'.

No. 38, in page 38, line 2, at end insert 'and'.

No. 39, in line 5, leave out from 'is' to end of line 11 and insert '25 per cent.'.—[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]

Forward to